Over the weekend, one of the biggest headlines in the baseball world was that of Andrew McCutchen, center-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, having to leave the game Saturday versus the Cardinals, shortly after making a diving play in the outfield.
This news makes most Pirates fans shake when they lay down at night because McCutchen is one of the best players on the team and the team is having one its best years in recent history. Losing McCutchen could spell certain doom for the team as they are knee-deep in a pennant race with the Cincinnatti Reds, going into the mid-point of the season.
McCutchen did not leave the game right away, toughing out two more at-bats after rolling his wrist, but you could tell that it was seriously bothering him as he swung the bat due to the pain etched on his face. That’s never good. McCutchen had to sit out Sunday’s game as well, but as of writing has not been placed on the disabled list.
This is exactly the type of injury that players and coaches dread. McCutchen is highly athletic and plays aggressively all the time. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the dive, even after making the play, McCutchen’s glove rolled beneath his body somewhat and most likely either strained some soft tissue or knocked something out of alignment in his wrist.
Plus, when you hurt your hand or wrist in baseball, if it doesn’t get fixed right away, it will be there for everything you do. And it might not hurt so bad that it keeps you from playing, but it will be right there hiding and every so often bite you again when you swing the back, move your glove in a weird angle, or push the gate open to go to the plate. Eventually, it gets into your head and even though it doesn’t hurt bad it still distracts you.
When it comes to injuries, they are always best avoided. Unfortunately when you have a spirited player such as McCutchen, who readily puts his body on the line for the benefit of his team, diving, rolling, sliding hard into bases, and breaking up players, trauma such as this can happen sometimes.
For that reason, for baseball players who want to play hard and put up the big statistics as well, it is important to do everything possible to bullet-proof the body. For the forearms, wrists and hands, here are some simple exercises that you can start implementing in your training right away that will hit your lower arms from all angles and start turning your hands into iron.
When swinging the bat, if you want to maximize your power, you have to have serious forearm strength to turn the bat. So for this one, we will target the muscles that rotate the forearm: the supinator, pronator, and others that support this movement.
For this one, you’ll need either a sledge hammer, axe, or some other long device to create leverage. Grip the hammer about half way down the handle. Start with the hammer head veritcal and from there, slowly rotate the hammer under control in both directions.
This video shows you a couple of variations of Sledge Hammer Rotations:
Plate Clamp Press
When squeezing the glove, the fingers do not ball up like a fist, they actually do a motion that is called clamping where the finger tips move toward the base of the palm. It is important to include this type of Grip training in your routine in order strengthen this movement correctly.
In order to strengthen your Clamping Grip, you will need four ten pound plates. Put them together in pairs with the smooth sides out. Wrap your fingers over the top of the plates and clamp them tightly into your palm. Now, perform a pressing movement overhead until you can feel the plates want to fall out. At that point, terminate the set, rest the hands for 30 seconds to a minute and then hit more reps.
Two tens is generally the thickness that works best for most people. To increase the weight by adding another dime can make it too large to fit in your hand, so if two tens is too light, try adding a chain through the center of the plates in order to add more resistance.
A couple ways to perform the Plate Clamp Press:
Pony Clamp Pinching
The thumb is an often neglected part of the hand, but it is very important to include it in your Grip training. One of the best ways is using a Pony Clamp. These are available at many hardware stores and even some dollar stores. I like the ones with flat handles the best.
Grip the Pony Clamp with one handle on the finger side and one on the thumb side and try to touch the handles together. You can perform this exercise for maximum reps, speed reps, holds for time, and if the resistance is too light for you, just wrap rubber bands around the clamp end to increase the resistance.
Here are a few variations you can do with the Pony Clamp:
The Pony Clamp with Extended Handles is one of the cool, effective, and simple training tools I show you how to make in Home Made Strength II: Grip Strength Edition. Click that link or the banner below to check it out today.
Extensor Bucket Lift
No Grip Training program is complete if it doesn’t feature some sort of extensor work. If you neglect your extensors, you not only can create an imbalance that could turn into an injury down the road, but you can also hold your strength development back. By strengthening the extensors you will also be able to further strength then flexors of the lower arms.
One way to do this is with an extensor bucket. I like to use an empty cheese ball loaded with steel and iron for the resistance. You can also use a pretzel container if cheese balls are “not your bag.”
Once you fill the container, stick the finger and thumb tips in and extend them out forcefully against the rim of the opening and then lift the container up. Once lifted, you can make the back of the forearm work even more intensely by flexing and extending the wrist.
Here is the Extensor Bucket in action:
These are just 4 simple exercises that you probably already have the equipment to perform, but there are hundreds of more ways to train for grip and forearm strength that can help you perform at a high level and stay injury free on the field.
My Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball has over 200 exercises in it. Remember, it’s not only important to have strong hands and forearms for playing the game, but if some kind of traumatic injury takes place, the athlete that is best prepared will often get back on the field more quickly.
Let’s hope that is what happens with McCutchen. He is a great player that loves the game and plays with passion and flair, and it would be a shame for him to miss a large portion of the season due to this injury.
If you want to bullet-proof your hands and forearms, check out Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball.
All the best in your training,
The Coolest thing about Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball is that the overwhelming majority of people who have bought it from me do not even play baseball. UFTB is the most complete and most detailed resource of Grip and Forearm Training in existence. If you want training ideas for the lower arms, this is the resource you want. No one else can touch it in terms of content, illustrations, program layout, and of course my email product support.